In 2014 changes to the Defence Act 1903 came into force that implemented the recommendations of the Government Review of the Woomera Prohibited Area (PDF). The amendments supported the Woomera Prohibited Area Rule 2014, which provides for the issue of permits to access the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA).
The legislation establishes a co-existence scheme that provides non-Defence users with greater certainty over Defence activity in the WPA and access arrangements.
The 2014 legislation applied to new users who did not have access under the then-current Defence Force Regulations 1952. Those regulations have been superseded by Defence Regulation 2016.
Defence Regulation 2016 replaces three instruments made under the Defence Act 1903: the Defence (Personnel) Regulations 2002, the Defence Force Regulations 1952 and the Defence (Prohibited Words and Letters) Regulations 1957.
Implications for WPA users
The 2014 legislation only applies to new users seeking access to the WPA. Other access to the WPA under Defence Regulation 2016 (superseded Defence Force Regulations 1952 current when WPA Rule 2014 introduced) has been in place in its current form since 1989.
New users are those who did not have access under the Defence Force Regulations 1952 when the 2014 legislation came into force. This group includes new mines, exploration companies, opal miners, tourists and research organisations.
Existing users include pastoralists, Aboriginal persons and traditional owners, the rail operator and the existing mines. Existing users continue to access the WPA under existing arrangements that include leases, deeds and other permissions provided under the then Defence Force Regulations 1952.
Learn more about the implications for new and existing users.
The key features of the 2014 legislation are:
- access management zones with defined exclusion periods
- permit system
- compliance and enforcement measures including offences and penalties for entering the WPA without permission and for failing to comply with the conditions of a permit, and
- compensation measures which will provide for compensation for acquisition of property interests or loss or damage caused by negligent use of the area for Defence purposes.
If you have any queries or suggestions on how we can better explain the range management framework, contact the WPA Coordination Office.